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LaTeX2e: Getting Started

Tips and instructions on getting started using the document preparation system LaTeX.

LATEX Help at the Library

Spring 2017

Every Wednesday in April

Get help with your LaTeX 

Thesis/Dissertation Documents

  •  April 5th and 12th at 3:30 pm

in DSL Classroom #213

  • April 19th and 26th at 6:30 pm

in DSL Classroom #213

No registration required!

Just stop by with your documents and fix your code.

Contact Petra Brnova for more info.





Naming of source files:

The name of a LATEX source file should be one word (no spaces, no special characters), and end with .tex.

(for examplemyfile.tex)

Spacing in text and math:

Many spaces equal one space in text, whereas your spacing is ignored in math, unless the space terminates a command.

Simple alignments

Use the align environment.
Separate the lines with \.
In each line, indicate the alignment point with &, one & per line.If the alignment point is adjacent to an =, +, and so on, place it before to ensure proper spacing.
Place a \notag command in each line that you do not wish numbered. If no line should be numbered, use the align* environment.
Place a \label command in each numbered line you may want to reference with \ref, \eqref, or \pageref.

Other Resources

What is LaTeX?


LaTeX is a comprehensive set of markup commands used with the powerful typesetting program TeX (developed by Donald E. Knuth) for the preparation of a wide variety of documents. Researchers, educators, and students in universities, as well as scientists in industry, use LaTeX to produce professionally formatted papers, proposals, and books. LaTeX (developed by Leslie Lamport) is an open source software system, available for download free of charge under LPPL. LaTeX is not a word processor! Instead, LaTeX encourages authors not to worry too much about the appearance of their documents, but instead concentrate on getting the right content. The LaTeX core is maintained by the LaTeX3 Project Group but it also benefits from extentions written by hundreds of user/contributors.

Version 2 or LaTeX2e is now the standard version, and LaTeX 2.09 is considered obsolete. 

Packages are a very important feature of LaTeX. These are extensions to the basic LaTeX commands that are written to files with names that end in .sty

Five types of packages are:

  1. Core - integral part of the LaTeX basic installation 
  2. Tools - set written by members of LaTeX3 Group
  3. Graphics - standardized set for including pictures generated by other programs and for handling color
  4. AMS LaTeX - published by the American Mathematical Society
  5. Contributed packages - submitted by users


Installing & Maintaining LaTeX2e

If you're new to TeX and LaTeX or just want an easy installation, get a full TeX distribution. LaTeX is not a stand-alone typesetting program in itself, but document preparation software that runs on top of Donald E. Knuth's TeX typesetting system.

TeX Live

«TeX Live is an easy way to get up and running with TeX. It provides a ready-to-run TeX system for most types of Unix, Mac OS X, and Windows, and includes all major TeX-related programs. It also includes a complete tree of fonts and macros, with support for many languages.»


Your system distribution or vendor has probably provided a TeX system including LaTeX. Check your usual software source for a TeX package; otherwise install TeX Live directly.

Mac OS X

The MacTeX  is a TeX distribution for Mac OS X; it is TeX Live with the addition of a native Mac installer and some Mac-specific programs.


The proTeXt is a TeX distribution for Windows, maintained by Thomas Feuerstack and based on MiKTeX. proTeXt guides the MiKTeX installation via a short PDF document. It also adds a few tools on top of MiKTeX.

LaTeX Tutorial 1